(See: U.S. Const. Amend. XIV, §1.) Often cited as the "due process" and "equal protection" clause of the U.S. Constitution, the second part of the Fourteenth Amendment States that, "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." The amendment was added after the Civil War. Many of the legal arguments for abortion rights, for physician-assisted suicide, for demanding medical treatment, and for refusing medical treatment have rested on this clause. The U.S. Supreme Court relied on this clause in its Roe v. Wade decision. However, in Vacco v. Quill, the Court did not recognize a right to suicide or assisted suicide based on the due process or equal protection clause. In Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health, the Court affirmed that incompetent citizens have the same rights as competent citizens (equal protection), and affirmed the traditional common law doctrine of informed consent and its "logical corollary" the right to refuse unwanted medical treatment. Rehnquist, in his ruling opinion on Vacco v. Quill, stated:
The Equal Protection Clause commands that no State shall "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." This provision creates no substantive rights. San Antonio Independent School Dist. v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 1, 33 (1973); id., at 59 (Stewart, J., concurring). Instead, it embodies a general rule that States must treat like cases alike but may treat unlike cases accordingly. Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202, 216 (1982) (" `[T]he Constitution does not require things which are different in fact or opinion to be treated in law as though they were the same' ") (quoting Tigner v. Texas, 310 U.S. 141, 147 (1940)). If a legislative classification or distinction "neither burdens a fundamental right nor targets a suspect class, we will uphold [it] so long as it bears a rational relation to some legitimate end." Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. ___, ___ (slip op., at 10) (1996).